What I was attempting create-pic of Jacques Torres' Chocolate Soup With Caramelized Bananas
As part of my Monday postings (in addition to the occasional book and product reviews) I am going to test out and review established chef's soup recipes. Hoping this will vary up some techniques and teach me more about soup, I also want to review how easy, difficult, and really if I can follow instructions as I attempt to re-create a masterpiece.
For this weeks review I decided to test out this Chocolate Soup With Caramelized Bananas recipe, which I have been thinking about since I listed it in the soup party article. Originally seen on the menu at Le Cirque in 2000 by chocolate master Chef Jacques Torres I was overwhelmed by how intricate his directions were-macerate, browning, and caramelize, oh my! It was also very different for me to follow several steps to a soup recipe, as opposed to putting ingredients in a pot (although soup preparation is way more than that), but it just seemed a lot easier compared to this intricate and different soupy experience. Or maybe it was that I was following directions that was difficult for me, either way here's what happened:
Jacques Torres' Chocolate Soup With Caramelized Bananas Soup Review
Rum, butter, bananas, milk, sugar, eggs, and bittersweet chocolate were the basic and easy-to-find ingredients in the recipe. Not too involved, so I thought that was a good sign that the recipe may be manageable and not too intricate. Oh boy, was I wrong!
Out of this whole experience I LOVED the prep of this soup. It didn't take that much time to do (maybe 30 minutes) and it also allowed me to test out caramelizing bananas, which I have never tried before. Also, the melting of the sugar was a cool technique and how it made the alcohol chunk up was also interesting. The melting chocolate and milk part was fine and it tasted like a hot chocolate so I thought I was on my way. Until...
Almost 8 hours later I started the preparation of the second part. Should have been a sign that something would go wrong, especially since Torres' recipe indicates that each step should happen immediately after each other. But I was going to present the soup at a party, so I thought making the meringue there would make sense-blend the egg whites and sugar, place it on the chocolate, and bake. No problem except I guess I read it wrong and added the eggs and sugar together at once (as opposed to " adding the powered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and whipping the whites to stiff but not dry peaks.") I misread that easy instruction and added the sugar and eggs at once, which resulted in an eggy-watery mess and not a creation that had "stiff but not dry peaks."
On top of that I was at party and not getting soupy in my home kitchen, where I might have thrown it out or attempted the meringue another day. So, I tried my best to make a modified variation of JT's (Jacques Torres') recipe. I put the bananas on the bottom of a large pot, poured the liquid in (rather than individual cups) and placed in in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
With no meringue I was was less-than-excited and maybe a little embarrassed to present the soupy, but with a party of 8 people eagerly awaiting this strange soup I had to present something. Personally, I thought the chocolate part was ok, the bananas didn't come out how I thought they would and ended up mushy, which may have something to do with the prolonged time I took between both parts of the prep. I also heard some comments that there was nuts in the soup (I never added nuts-maybe the caramelization?)-but that struck me as really odd.
Overall, I don't think it was awful, but as someone who basically makes soups by adding various ingredients into a pot and stays true to her instincts I had challenges with the numerous dimensions of this recipe and different techniques of this soupy. I also think that it is worth trying my hand at this soupy again, but next time making sure to follow the directions with the meringue and preparing each step right after each other and not waiting 8 hours!
What I learned from this soup review:
1. I am no Jacques Torres.
2. You need the meringue.
3. I am going to try it again.
4. I really hate working from recipes, but it was nice to learn about different techniques such as caramelizing.
5. I want to make my own variation of a chocolate soup.
And the here is the actual recipe from Jacques Torres. Let me know if you have a more successful chocolate soupy experience than my own. I would love to see pics!
please note: This is all of JT's writing, so where it says author notes it is JT and not Seriously Soupy.
Jacques Torres' Chocolate Soup with Caramelized Bananas
found on: www.fabulousfoods.com
|Servings: ||8 |
|Author Notes: ||The clients at Le Cirque love chocolate desserts, so I am always trying to come up with new ones. One year, Kris and I went to Disney World. She insisted I try a frozen chocolate covered banana and, quite frankly, I questioned the concept. Well, I loved it! I didn't think Sirio would be too pleased if I served bananas on a stick at his restaurant, so here is the version I adapted for the dessert menu. I like t top the warm soup with meringue to add another layer of texture and enhance the visual appearance.|
|Ingredients: ||For the Caramelized Bananas: |
4 large bananas, peeled and diced
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the Soup:
4 cups whole milk
10 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
To finish the Soup:
7 large egg whites
1 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
Prepare the caramelized bananas:Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. If it starts to smoke, it is too hot and you need to run it under cool water, dry it, and start again. When it is warm sprinkle the sugar into the pan. Try to keep the sugar in an even layer to allow it all to caramelize at the same time. As soon as you see the sugar begin to melt, start moving the pan over the burner to keep the sugar from burning. Tilt the pan from side to side so that the melted sugar runs over the unmelted sugar. Cook until all of the sugar is a light golden brown. Chef Torres usually adds a tablespoon of butter at this stage because it makes the caramel smoother. Add the bananas and rum and spread evenly in the pan. When cooking with alcohol, there is always the chance of it catching on fire, so be very careful when adding the rum. Continue to cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the bananas are soft but not mushy; they should still hold their shape. Remove from the heat and pour the caramelized bananas onto a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool for about 20 minutes. Covering the hot bananas with plastic wrap keeps the caramel from drying as it cools.
Place the diced bananas in a medium-sized mixing bowl with the rum and toss to coat. Set aside to let macerate at room temperature while you prepare the caramel.
Prepare the Chocolate Soup:
Pour the milk into a 2 quart heavy -bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until well combined and the Chocolate has melted. Bring the mixture to a boil again, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside while you prepare the soup bowls.
For this recipe, the bowls Chef Torres uses hold 4 1/2 ounces. You can use any oven-safe bowls. Place one large spoonful of the caramelized bananas in the bottom of each soup bowl. The bananas will give texture to the soup, so be generous. Cover the bananas with the hot soup, filling each bowl three-quarters full. Set the soup bowls on a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator until chilled, about 2 hours. The soup will set and thicken, allowing it to support the meringue; chill it well before topping it.
To Finish the Soup:
Place the egg whites in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and make a French meringue by adding the powered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and whipping the whites to stiff but not dry peaks.
Place the meringue in a large pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch star tip. Remove the soup from the refrigerator and pipe the meringue onto the tops in a decorative pattern. Place the soup bowls in a deep roasting pan or baking dish and fill it with warm water to come one third of the way up the side of the bowls. Let stand for about 30 minutes to warm the soup. If you do this before you serve dinner, the soup should be ready to be browned by the time you have finished eating.
Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Remove the soup bowls from the warm water bath and place them on a baking sheet. Place in the oven just until the meringue begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. The soup should not get hot. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
When you cut Chocolate, start at one corner and always cut it on an angle. Don't try to cut big pieces, because it is too difficult. If you cut on an angle, it will be easier and safer. This way, you do not have to cut so much surface at one time.
Chef Torres likes to top the warm soup with meringue to add another layer of texture and enhance the visual appeal. You can skip this step if you prefer.